I’ve had two occasions to visit this beautiful area of rainforest over the last month. The first was with my friend John, when we went for the purpose of photographing some of the fungi that appears there in winter. The second was with a family of German visitors who stayed with us for a few days during the week.
Wirrawilla is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘Green Trees’. It is located near the old timber town of Toolangi to the north-east of Melbourne. It has a 1km boardwalk, deep in the forest, which is a secret little gem, not widely known but one of those forest places that has never been logged or burnt. It is a wonderful place to see a cool, temperate rainforest within easy reach of Melbourne.
The surrounding forest consists of tall, straight eucalyptus trees but the deep valley along Sylvia and Myrtle Creeks are full of Myrtle Beech, Blackwood and Southern Sassafras trees. The Myrtle Beech has small, glossy, green, serrated leaves and are dense enough to form a canopy over the forest. Blackwood was used by Aboriginal people for making clubs, shields and spear throwers. Sassafras typically forms a conical shape. Its smooth bark is musk scented and blotched with light green lichen.
The Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk follows a boardwalk for almost it’s entire length along the Sylvia and Mrytle Creeks. A number of bridges cross over the creeks along the way. The environment is very lush with tree ferns, lichens, mosses and trees reaching up to form a dark canopy.
We found a number of fungi of different shapes and colours. Fungi do not contain chlorophyll and instead absorb their nutrients from the substrate that they colonise. There are plenty of rotting trees and stumps for them to colonise here.
I understand that Platypus and small native fish called Galaxias live here, but we didn’t see any during our walks. We did see a Lyrebird, however. These birds mimic the songs of other birds that share the forest. We knew that they were in this area because we could see their scratchings. They have strong feet and search in the leaf litter and rotten wood for worms and grubs.